Welcome To The Marty Party
Monday, September 26 2016
“Every Friday this summer we’ve had boxing on the M Street Beach at 6 a.m.— and it’s mandatory,” says Marty Farrell, one of the lead trainers at EverybodyFights (EBF) by George Foreman III in South Boston.
“At first it was just for the girls who are training for Haymakers (Sam Berdinka, Lara Gibbons, Julia Sarni, Paulina Kozak, Lauren Keenan and Christina Morris), but now the guys in the gym are coming, too. We have close to 30 people doing circuit training, mitts, and body armor drills on the beach. We’re getting these girls in phenomenal shape.”
Welcome to the “Marty Party”. It’s a workout experience one can only get with Farrell, a tireless former Marine and lifelong boxer whose positivity, work ethic and drive are legend both in and out of the gym.
“I’m the oldest trainer in the gym, (they call a couple of us the “OGs” — old guys) and kind of mentor the other trainers in a fatherly way,” says Farrell, who was one of a team of trainers that helped George Foreman III open EverybodyFights in the Seaport district in 2014. “We have six girls training for the Belles and each has her own trainer. Then they do two days per week of strength and conditioning with me.”
Farrell grew up boxing, starting at age 12. An amateur for his entire career, he competed on the Marine Corps Boxing team as well as in Golden Gloves tournaments. As a coach, he’s been bringing fighters to compete in every type of amateur event and tournament for more than 25 years.
But nothing has matched the excitement of preparing fighters for Haymakers for Hope.
“I’ve been in the fight game a very long time,” he says. “To take someone who’s never done anything like this and train them for four months for this huge fight show with a thousand people watching——it’s just amazing. It can be intimidating, and you have to have a lot of guts to do it.”
Farrell’s Haymakers experience runs deep. He fought in the very first Boston event in 2011 at the Park Plaza Castle, noting that he was asked to fight in a main event exhibition match. After that, he trained Haymakers fighters at Fitness Advantage until Foreman, a friend, tapped him to be a part of the EBF team.
“I immediately suggested to George that we get involved with Haymakers,” says Farrell.
“Marty is one of our best trainers, and a fighter in every sense of the word,” says Foreman. “He has a long history in the sport of boxing but also has deep roots in the fitness scene in Boston. He brings a lot of energy to our classes and community.”
That energy, and a relentless never-quit attitude is what got Farrell through a pair of devastating spinal injuries, 10 years apart, that ultimately rendered him temporarily paralyzed.
After breaking his back in 2000 while working in construction, Farrell had retired from competing. That is, until 2011. While simultaneously coaching a team of Haymakers fighters for the first Boston event, and the Boston Police Boxing team for a tournament against the NYPD, he ended up filling a spot on the BPD card and won the 190 lb. division. Just weeks later, he was in the ring for Haymakers, and tore his rotator cuff. A few months later, while moving furniture, Farrell felt a disc pop in his back, and that was it. Surgery was inevitable, but it left him unable to walk, much less box.
“I had to learn how to walk again,” says Farrell, who was told he might never be able to regain his athletic life. Undaunted, he says he “decided to prove them wrong” and fought his way back to health.
Farrell credits his “fighter’s discipline” for bringing him back, and he works hard to instill a no-quit, give 100% ethic into his five kids, ages 7 to 16, who are very active and often join him during training sessions at the gym. He also brings that drive to his “day job” for the last four years, as an athletic director for the Boston Centers for Youth, in the Hyde Park Community Center. He recently turned the center’s storage area into a boxing gym and created a boxing program for kids, which is very popular.
“Part of my job is mentoring the kids—keeping them engaged and safe,” he says. “It’s pretty cool. I really enjoy what I do.”
Back on the beach, the 90-minute Fight Club class—a non-stop, dig-down-in-the-sand session of strength and conditioning mixed with pad work—has been a wild success for Farrell and hugely effective for his current class of Belles.
“They are putting in 20 hours a week and getting into kick-ass shape,” he says. “And our former Haymakers teams are coming back to support and give the girls sparring work .They talk to each other and help them mentally prepare for what lies ahead.”
That support and community is one reason Foreman says he chose Boston for his boxing gym.
“While wrapping up my professional boxing career in 2012, I came up to Boston to visit a friend,” says Foreman. “I was always impressed by both the boxing and fitness community here. We opened our first EBF in the Seaport area of Boston in December 2014. Since then we’ve opened two studio partnerships and are opening our next Boston location in January, 2017.”
Since opening EverybodyFights, Foreman and Farrell have been refining their approach to the Haymakers training camp, and have developed a system that links each fighter with one of the gym’s many talented trainers and requires fighters to master a series of skill levels.
“Each fighter has to complete or pass each level to move on,” says Farrell.” So Level 1 is a month of basic boxing skills, then Level 2 is about refining each skill, such as footwork or the different punches. You have to show a trainer you can do them before you move on, and so on. We’ve refined it a little bit each year. It’s been a good system.”
Both Farrell and Foreman are proud of their Haymakers teams and the family they’ve built in the gym.
“The impact Haymakers has had on EBF is hard to measure,” says Foreman. “It's an event that we look forward to twice a year, and we always have a large presence at the fights to support our team.”
With just days to go, Farrell is already pretty excited about his team’s chances of doing very well.
“I love getting the win, but just getting in there, looking out and seeing everybody from our gym in the crowd. To see all the support—it’s amazing,” he says. “I’ve been to Vegas and all over, and I’ve seen thousands of fights. Haymakers is pretty special.”